When restaurants start up, there's a lot of pressure to get noticed and go viral, especially in the modern age of social media. Thus, several find themselves giving top dollar to big-name food influencers early to help get that initial foot traffic in the door.
While having connections to these social media gurus helps, their overall effect pales in comparison to the power us everyday consumers have in turning a restaurant into a success story.
"Your local gym manager will bring to you per day, more people, more capita, than an influencer, because those are local people in that area that wanna eat," explains Bear D'Egidio, the co-owner of the viral Groundhouse Burger. As both an influencer (aka "The Burger God") and a restaurant owner, D'Egidio revealed on Foodbeast's The Katchup Podcast that while being able to get big names advertising his business is cool, he gives the local community an equal amount of attention.
"Everybody has a network," he said. "Your cousins, your local gym manager. The person you're at school with. Your teacher, your principal. Those are content creators. Those are influencers, they're micro-influencers. Stop looking at the game so macro. People need to break down what they are. If you don't have resources, if you don't have a network, you start small and you build. Your principal turns into the district principal, who turns into [a local fitness celeb]. You have these networks around you, macro or micro, that you can use however you want."
Us telling our friends and family about the places we love to eat has a real fiscal impact, one we may not even realize. The lunch place you fall in love with and tell your co-workers about may lead to dozens of people in their own networks checking it out. It's how dinner pop-ups get traction and become viral to the point that their owners become local celebrities, which is what happened to college chef Jimmy Wong, whose fine dining pop-up in his San Luis Obispo apartment became flooded with reservations almost immediately. Same goes for Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen, who started out in his Los Angeles apartment before his popularity made him a local celebrity with his own cookbook and brick-and-mortar location.
These guys wouldn't have their success stories if not for the general public, aka, the "micro-influencers." Each of us has the potential to be a micro-influencer; all it takes is a brief mention to our friends about our current favorite restaurants.
If you have a place or few that you love posting up at to eat, make sure to tell your friends. It's the best way to get people in the door and ensures that those restaurants will hang around for years to come.